Rant Back

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Double Topic: Discussion & Racism

Okay. myreligiousislam thinks by going to MORA officers will give me the answer I'm looking for. The truth is, in fact, I have talked to them. I didn't go directly to the MORA, but I know some of them personally. And I did talk to them for quite a bit. I mentioned that in the cBox.

And for the most part, I found it to be quite unsatisfying. Many of the arguments I've read and discussed before. A few even cursed at me. No one's actually come up with anything new. myreligionislam and guest1 (there are so many guests. Haha. I think all the guests should find pseudonyms so it's less confusing) argues I should find better informed officers.

So when is this cycle going to end? I didn't find the answer because I didn't try hard enough? It's a very convenient thing to say. It's like me saying that you didn't become an atheist because you didn't try hard enough at talking with the atheists who really know their stuff. Compared to them, I'm merely just trying to catch up. But then even so, I still argue my points, and I believe I've argued very well.

I don't blindly put my faith in the reasoning in scientists blindly thinking that because they know the answer, I don't need to know the answer. It's not like that. I'm not blinded by faith. I need to find out for myself. I need to understand for myself.

I constantly read about religion, the different religions, their histories, their claims for truth, their discrepancies, and the effect they have on the people believing these religions. I'm bothered to actually research what I'm talking about. I also read about other topics that interests me even in the slightest bit, be it economics, linguistics, psychology, physics, chemistry, existentialism or sociology. I don't claim to be an expert in any of these things. But that's the point. That's why I'm reading up on them. That's why I discuss things.

Md is right. I'm here to discuss things. To debate. To have an intellectual discussion.

Oh, by the way, the experiment some of you are talking about. Incidentally the experiment is starting today, or more correctly, yesterday 9th September. It's the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, being conducted by CERN. It's an attempt to understand the universe by attempting to recreate the Big Bang.

And I don't agree with people who want to stop anything that is said to recreate 'God's supposed ways.' To me, this basically reads like "Don't do it, because we're afraid it will prove even people are capable of doing what we believe God did." So this outcry for the people at CERN to stop what they're doing is basically an attempt to oppress doubt and questioning, rather than anything else.


Yes, some people have requested I talk about this. And I have, to an extent.

Some time in the last couple of months, there was news of a Malay teacher being sued for making racially insulting comments to Indian students. This was in Malaysia. The Malay teacher blamed Indians for stealing jobs, and for the decline of the importance of Malays in the economic sector, and horribly called the students "black monkeys".

Here is an article on it:

Now the sensible thing to do was to fire the teacher, so that it is made clear that racial intolerance is not tolerable within society. But what do they do?

The Ministry transferred the teacher to a smart school, located closer to her home. So for being racist she actually got a better job. Which is not as ludicrous as the government's explanation for the transfer. They stated that it was for security concerns on behalf of the teacher, not because she committed an offence. No further disciplinary actions were taken.

Mahathir was known to be very anti-Semitic. And it is obvious the economic and social laws in Malaysia favoured Bumiputras, who in definition are the Malaysian Malays.

Why am I talking about Malaysia instead of Brunei? Because it's close to home.

A lot of Bruneian Malays have very racist views on anything not Malay.

For instance, the word 'kaling.' This is a very disgustingly derogatory term to describe Indians. It is similar to when a white guy describes a black person as a 'nigger.' It is simply unacceptable. The fact that its etymological history shows it to be not an offensive word by meaning, when it is used to describe an entire race or nationality, it becomes a very offensive word.

Let me refer back to the word 'nigger.' This originally came from the word 'negro' - which sadly some Bruneians still use to describe a black person - which was a Spanish/Portuguese word for 'black.' Now the word is not offensive on its own. But after it has been used as a collective word for black people, the word carries on a negative, racist tone.

This is similar to 'kaling.' The word 'kaling,' a variation of 'keling' frequently used in Malaysia and Singapore, originated from the word 'Kalinga,' referring to the Kalinga kingdom. In those days, it was not used in a derogatory tone. But just like the word 'nigger,' the word 'kaling' obtained a racist tone to it as time went on.

Most people argue that they don't know about it, that's why they use it. The thing is, ignorance is not an excuse. Especially not these days. Most Bruneians know its racial connotations anyway. But they then argue it's all in the intentions, and they feel they don't intend for it to be racist. This is really just being severely insensitive. For an Indian person to hear the word 'kaling,' it's very offending to him, no matter how pure the intentions.

Bruneians also view Indians as low-lifes. The ones who do the dirty work. The ones who clean the toilets and serve the murtabak. For a Bruneian, to be called an Indian feels like an insult. In a football game I attended in the national stadium several years back, one of the linesmen was an Indian. A Sikh to be exact. Now whenever the audience felt they were being wronged (the Bruneians are famed for their feeling of being persecuted in football), they shouted racially horrific things. These are some of the more milder ones:

"balik semula jual murtabak tah ko eh"
"oh kaling. buta kah? Buka tah serban ah. Bebau kari kah rambut atu?"

Now racism in Brunei isn't just limited to Indians. Malays also direct their racism towards the Chinese. The phrases 'cinababi' and 'cinabota' are sadly some of the derogatory terms being used by Malays behind their backs (or even in front) to describe the Chinese.

Racism is even pointed between Malays themselves. I'm talking of course about the Indonesians. Bruneians consistently regard the Indonesians as thieving, deceptive, low-lifes deserving only to clean dishes and drive their cars. If there is something missing in the house, the first suspect will be the Indonesian maid. This is partly fuelled by the Bruneians' regarding Indonesia as a supernatural haven, after watching so many of those Indonesian horror films. They accuse maids of putting curses on them. Cheating husbands conveniently use this excuse as an escape clause, saying that the maids used voodoo to seduce them.

Radio DJs and TV personalities often mock Indonesians and Indians by putting on fake Indonesian and Indian accents to evoke laughter. That's really just in bad taste and further racial degradation.

A lot of this comes also from an insecurity, a fear of loss of one's racial identity and religion. They are insecure and afraid that if they accept the Chinese, Indians and other foreigners with open arms, then they will lose what makes them Malay. The truth is, racial identity is an evolving concept. Things will change, inevitably. Some parts of our racial identity will be lost, regardless of whether other races integrate themselves into the Bruneian society or not. But the core of it will not.

Another reason is that the Malays fear that the other races are better in many respects. They stereotype the Chinese as amazing at business or mathematics, and being insecure of their own abilities, they subconsciously - some even willingly - hate the Chinese for being better. Malays are also so used to seeing Indians in restaurants serving murtabak and on the streets cutting grass, that when they see the potential - some of this potential has already been realised - of Bruneian Indians to flourish, they want to limit the Indians' opportunities, and dismiss them as nothing other than cooks and grasscutters. They are afraid the status quo will change. This also applies to Indonesians, Filipinos and other nationalities, especially those from Southeast Asian countries.

Any of you sociologists or anthropologists care to either correct me, add any information, please do so. I'm not totally familiar with any racial discrimination in the government itself. I don't want to make assumptions. I will dig up, read up and discuss this in the near future.

If you've got any personal experiences with racism in Brunei that you'd like to share, please feel free to comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment